Some days are just so full of moments that you want to write them down before you forget. Here are some trends on my mind as we enter the weekend:
THE ROYAL WEDDING
Yes, I woke myself up hours earlier than normal to watch all the preview coverage and the wedding itself. Is it just me, or was the royal coverage full of inconsistencies? Prince William inherited his mother’s ring. No, Harry did, and he gave it to William upon request. Kate Middleton’s family came from poverty (except the half of the family that wasn’t). Kate was an ordinary girl (or the child of multimillionaires who own a second home — a pied a terre in London — bought for $1.5 million cash). I thought I’d go to the source and browse the British Monarchy Web site for answers. Plus, I wanted to know whether Prince William’s bio would update as soon as he was married and named Duke of Cambridge (the White House Web site changed over from a Bush to Obama administrative interface as soon as Obama was sworn in) . Ummm, someone at Buckingham Palace didn’t realize something that two billion worldwide viewers did:
My takeaway: If you can’t trust all the (future) King’s horses and all the (future) King’s men, who can you trust? On the flip side, if you’ve just realized that your web presence needs to be refreshed, you’re in very good company.
A friend of mine attended a special grade level performance at her child’s school. “Since when,” she asked, “do teachers dress like they’re about to clean the garage?” She described the teachers organizing the program in her child’s middle class district as wearing old jeans, old t-shirts, and zip-up hoodies. I wondered aloud: was it casual Friday? Weren’t they school t-shirts? Nope. This got my friend – who comes from a long lineage of educators – thinking: if they don’t dress like professionals, why do they feel so entitled to tell taxpayers they deserve more money? We realized that this was a perfect example of a lost advocacy moment. Had the teachers looked more professional (for the record, khaki pants and a newish fleece would have counted as “professional”) — or, at the very least, worn those “professional” clothes at a special parent event — they might have gained an advocate. Instead … what?
Similarly, she said, she was aware that cafeteria workers wanted to be supported against privatization. However, she doesn’t use the cafeteria’s services. Why? The food served contains a lot of empty carbohydrates or high-fructose corn syrup and there are few healthy options. As a result, she feels obligated to make her child’s lunch each day and doesn’t use the cafeteria’s services. This, too, is a missed advocacy opportunity. Until the cafeteria workers can show that they are doing something to support kids’ healthy nutrition at the time of an obesity epidemic, why should families support them?
My takeaway: If you want parents and students to advocate for you, do a quick check to make sure you’re supporting them first.
photo © 2005 Sheri | more info (via: Wylio)
John Merrow is UM School of Education’s commencement speaker, and he spoke to a small group today. He suggests that when people use the term “achievement gap,” they’re not being specific enough. He identifies four kinds of gaps:
OPPORTUNITY GAPS, where options for some students are smaller than for others;
EXPECTATIONS GAPS, when we expect more of some students (e.g., Caucasian, Asian) than we do others (e.g., African Americans);
LEADERSHIP GAPS, where the folks who make decisions lack the vision or implementation skills;
AFFECTION GAPS, in which we simply don’t maximize how we show students that we like them and think they’re valuable (e.g., we don’t just say, “Let’s test a lot, no matter what it does to kids.”
Any or all of these gaps can contribute to an OUTCOMES GAP. So it’s not enough to say, “We have a gap between what Kids 1-9 and Kids 10-18 can do.” We have to look more deeply.
My takeaway: To solve problems, get specific about them first. The only way to hit a target is to paint the bulls-eye first.
My day began as it ended: with pomp and circumstance (but nobody on horseback): the School of Information’s graduation ceremony. It was great to see our students emerge from two years of exhausted labor, and even more fun to see them with their families. We are sending some wonderful librarians — into the world.
My takeaway: Note to self: invent new spa weight-loss treatment: 1)walk across campus on an unusually warm day; 2) immediately zip yourself into a polyester academic robe with a velvet stole; 3) sit under hot stage lights for an hour.